Like a lot of people these days, I always have my smartphone with me, even in bed.
It’s probably the last thing I look at before I go to sleep (other than my wife, of course), and certainly the first thing I reach for in the morning.
And the first thing I look at on the smartphone, as I sip my coffee, is the summary of the night’s news on the Swedish state TV news app, ‘svt NYHETER’.
Near the top of the page there’s a link ‘Här är nattens nyheter’ (‘nyheter’ means ‘news’ – the rest of it you can probably guess…)
It’s a short and simple write up of events – who won the superbowl – traffic chaos in Stockholm – Venezuela’s leader says no to elections – so perfect for reading in bed, while building my Swedish reading skills!
Clicking on the back button, I’ll browse the rest of the site and read anything that interests me.
And before you ask, of course I don’t understand everything!
But it’s a good way to learn vocabulary and consolidate grammar nevertheless.
When I’ve had my fill of snö kaos (it means what you think it means), I’ll close the app and swipe down from the top of the screen to look at the ‘notifications’ that have come in overnight.
There can’t be a person on the planet that isn’t familiar with these, though I bet there are plenty that don’t know how to personalise what they see…
Below is what’s showing on my smartphone notifications screen just now. The spelling mistakes, if any, are entirely my own:
Hai ricevuto un trasferimento di E50,00 da STE..
Ciao, la tua offerta iliad è stata rinnovata. Per seguire i tuoi consumi vai nella Area Personale su https//www.iliad.it/account/consumi-e-credito
DN. Dagens Nyheter 08.18
Finsk OS-hjälte död – backhopparen Matti Nykä..
DN. Dagens Nyheter 07.51
Nytt kraftigt snöfall under måndagen – SMHI ha..
La Matinale 07.42
La Matinale du Monde
L’édition du 4 février est disponibile
Le Monde 07.09
Le Monde – Politique
« C’est le citoyen qu’on intimide ». L’avocat Fran..
Akşam Gazetesi 08.30
50 TERÖRİST ETKİSİZ HALE GETİ
İçişleri Bakanlığı: Ocak’ta düzenlenen i..
SVT Nyheter 32
UPPDRAG GRANSKNING Tågförseningarna u..
CHATTA MED METEOROLOG Flygförseningar…
SvD Svenska Dagbladet 17
Svenska Dagbladet Vintervädret slår hårt mot…
Svenska Dagbladet Fängslade svenska förläg…
You can’t know, but there’s nothing there that I don’t want to see.
Information from my bank and cellphone network is useful, of course. And the rest is news (I’m obsessed!) in a variety of languages, mostly Swedish, NO ENGLISH!
(‘La Mattinale’ is particularly good, by the way. If you want to improve your French, check it out!)
So, how to personalise what you see?
I have an Android phone. Apple users need to figure it out for themelves.
What I do is click on ‘Settings’ (the gear icon), then choose ‘Notifications’, then scroll down to see a complete list of the installed apps, including loads of stuff I never knew I had.
Next to each app, there’s an on/off button. Personalising what I see is as simple as ‘off-ing’ everything I don’t want to see, and ‘on-ing’ all the interesting news apps in the languages I want to improve.
The idea is that, having personalised what I’ll be shown, it’s more likely I’ll look at it – in bed, but also in those idle moments between one task and the next, or while waiting for the bus.
Do I click on all the notifications, to read the full articles?
Obviously not, or I’d never get anything done.
But even just scanning the notifications, before swiping left to delete them, is READING.
And reading is good, as I keep telling you (listening too!)
If you’re not doing it, you’re making the job of learning Italian so much harder than it need be.
OK, enough from me.
Here are some thoughts from Leslie, a club member in Switzerland who’s always brimming with suggestions…
I wrote to you about a month ago and had given thought (briefly) to cleaning it up for publication, at your suggestion, when today’s stream of learning ideas came in. I’ve decided, for whatever help they may be to others, to send in a few thoughts and hope you will give clearance to those which aren’t aligned with your own far-more-experienced advice.
1) Forgive me. I and many others simply don’t/can’t learn to speak or even understand a new language by osmosis. Case in point: I have lived in the German-speaking area of Switzerland full time for 12 years. I studied German for the first 4 of these and was pushed over the A2 exam finish line by a wonderful teacher who wearily retired immediately after I passed the exam (at which time, I also retired my studies). I listen to German (the real Hoch Deutsch) on TV and radio every day. I read the papers. I follow some things fairly well (the pictures help), but none has helped me carry on a conversation in German. My Swiss-born husband, on the other hand, speaks 5 languages rather fluently and learned them all by living, working, listening and speaking with the “natives.” This to say we each learn differently. I may in time understand things better through listening and reading projects, but they won’t (or haven’t to this point) help me much in speaking to someone which, with few exceptions, is what we, your followers, are ultimately trying to achieve through our efforts.
2) So, after nearly 2 years of studying Italian with Skype teachers, I had an epiphany. If you want to learn to speak, you have to . . (are you ready?) . . SPEAK. Unlike you who isn’t so concerned about grammar so long as you’re understood (a la my husband’s method), I want and need to understand the why’s and structure of the new language. Yes, it slows things down. Yes, I probably over-think things as I bumble my way through what only remotely resembles a 2-way conversation. But it’s what I am and it’s what I need to learn to speak. So, I work with my teacher one hour each week on grammar, another hour speaking with her about whatevers, and an hour with someone I consider a “coach” who focuses on things that need further work, explanation and practice.
3) Which leads me to the suggestion I sent you last month. Either when I don’t have a one-on-one lesson, or when I’m just looking to supplement my studies, I’ve found that writing a little every day offers bigly benefits. This should be very unlike writing as you might a school assignment. In a short paragraph, just talk about your day. Or your feelings. Or anything you might normally chat about with a friend. The absolute no-no in this exercise is that you NOT look up one single, solitary thing when doing your “journal.” No word look-ups. No conjugation look-ups. Just WRITE. Use the words you know (or think you know) the best you can. If you can’t say exactly what you’re thinking, find another way using the words you do know. This is the closest simulation to a real-life conversation and makes you use what you have in your word/grammar arsenal to get your point across. Afterwards, I cut and paste my “entry” into google translate. It won’t translate perfectly but the most obvious word, conjugation and spelling mistakes will jump out at you. And, if you feel ambitious, you can try to correct the most obvious errors for a second try. But, the most important benefit is that you’ve been communicating. Combine this exercise with some real-life conversations with a teacher or coach, and the benefits will be dramatic.
I sincerely hope these suggestions are helpful to some of your followers. As my late father used to say, “We’re different. This is why we don’t all paint our houses red.”
Grazie mille, Leslie.
A mercoledì, allora!
50% off ‘Nuovo Cinema Paradiso’ – final reminder
The ‘Book of the Week’ offer on Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, one of the classics of Italian cinema, ends soon (Tuesday night, Wednesday morning, Wednesday afternoon – depending on which time zone you find yourself in…)
Until then, get this ebook version of the classic movie for just £3.99 (it normally sells for £7.99) from our online shop.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online at soundcloud.com)
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- comprehension questions to check your understanding
- an Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- download the Free Sample Chapter (.pdf) to check the level and format BEFORE you buy
Your e-book will be emailed to you within 24 hours of your purchase.
Too easy or too hard for you? Pick material for learning Italian from the Catalog page.